If you’ve taken notice of the increasingly vintage-chic design aesthetic of Jersey City, you’ve probably come across @ball_and_claw_vintage on Instagram – the beloved #currentdesignsituation hashtag Kings, and local Jersey City residents to boot.
Joey, Mark and Bridget (their cat) moved to Lincoln Park in 2015. After searching for 3 months in Brooklyn, they purchased their dream home in Jersey City. “You would go to an open house at 10am, all walk awkwardly together to each room. We became friends with the people we would see every weekend, like “Hey Bill! So what kind of offer are you thinking this week?”
JI: You bought at a great time in that neighborhood!
B&C: Looking back, when we sold our condo in Brooklyn, we should have bought two smaller places here; the market was so good here. But who knew?
JI: Has your neighborhood continued to change since you moved in?
B&C: We see a lot of condo buildings and residences going up. We actually received a flyer in our mailbox the other day, “Will you sell your place”? It was a realtor. His client lost out on a home near us.
Honey Bakery is here – a really good Korean/Russian bakery. Weatherman’s Coffee is also supposed to be coming in a month. The amenities are catching up to the development.
JI: Is your neighborhood already priced out?
B&C: There are definitely still deals over here. A house near us just sold for a little over $400k. It needed some work but the owners are renovating and making it beautiful. It’s exciting to watch.
JI: What kind of condition was your house in when you purchased, and what kind of work did you do to it?
B&C: We actually didn’t do too much to our place. The previous owners owned a flower shop near Grove Street and they appreciated and kept a lot of the historical elements – like the original flooring. The 3rd floor was the old servant’s quarters. It was painted a bright blue, so we went all white and refinished the floors and really brightened the space up.
In the bathroom we ripped up the 1950’s pink and white tile. The kitchen was a full gut, though. It didn’t match the aesthetic of the house. It was 90’s black countertops and cheap wood cabinets. We tried to bring it back to how it would have been.
In our dream world we would have done refurbished furniture pieces, but that’s not for everyone, and for resale value it wouldn’t have done us much good, so we avoided that route and went classic. We got our doors from Amighini Architecture, the ones that lead into the backyard. It’s really an amazing space now!
JI: You have a reputation as a thrift king!
B&C: Everyone is guilty of this: we buy something and six months later, we want something new. I don’t feel bad if I paid $10 for a table and then put it out on the side of the road a few weeks later. We have one piece, a mid-century credenza that we paid way too much money for, so we’ve stuck with it because we are attached now due to the funds spent. So, to avoid that, we try not to spend a lot of money.
JI: Where do you thrift?
B&C: Usually estate sales, and I’ve got my select flea markets. I stay in New Jersey. I’ve got my lines drawn. I could spend hours driving to go see something that’s disappointing in person. We did go out to California and grabbed some amazing vintage textiles. We sold all of that on @shopballandclawvintage.
JI: Did you use anyone locally for your project?
B&C: Niroma studio – she did the macramé divider in our backyard. We’re working on an upcoming collaboration together, so stay tuned! We also love Margaret Margaret Gabriella, who is also a local Jersey City artist.
JI: How did you get into the business of buying and selling vintage, and how has Jersey City responded?
B&C: Vintage furniture was always a passion of mine. We sell online through Instagram via the @shopballandclaw Instagram handle. We have a great following in New Jersey but we actually get a ton of buyers from Texas and California. Our Instagram really blew up last year. We went from 300 followers to a thousand then a few thousand so quickly.
B&C: It’s been great. I’ve met so many amazing people through Instagram. We travelled to California and met a few of the #currentdesignsituation hashtag collaborators too.
JI: So, is your next step California?
B&C: We’re waiting for the house to hit a million. [Laughs] No but seriously, our next step will be to downsize. Our house is perfect, dreamy and beautiful. We’ll never find a place quite like this one!
JI: In this market, that price point may not be such a dream!
B&C: We’ll see!